London, Dec 8 (ANI): The world's first ever Christmas cards launched in London in 1843 are set to be auctioned off.
The greeting cards had not been so popular when they were first printed, and out of the 1,000, only a handful of the one-shilling cards sold.
Now, three of 18 cards produced 167 years ago and still known to exist are to be auctioned in New York and they are expected to fetch as much as 10,000 pounds each.
One of the cards showed a family feasting and drinking, with one child controversially being taught how to consume wine, while three other youngsters tuck in to a plum pudding.
The cheerful image is flanked by depictions of charity, with the poor and dispossessed being helped out, and a message in the centre of the card reads: "A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You".
The cards, which were hand coloured, were produced by Sir Henry Cole and published by Summerley's Home Treasury Office, 12, Old Bond Street, London.
His design for the Cole's Christmas card was criticised for promoting drunkenness.
The cards were acquired by the late advertising entrepreneur Jock Elliott, who loved Christmas and spent years amassing almost anything to do with the festive season.
He died in 2005 aged 84 and his family are now selling some of his Christmas collection at the auction in New York. Sotheby's expect them to fetch between 4,500 pounds and 10,000 pounds each.
"These were the first Christmas cards produced and only 18 are known to exist," the Daily Mail quoted Justin Caldwell, from auctioneers Sotheby's, as saying.
"These came from a famous collection of Christmas items called the Jock Elliott collection. One even comes with an envelope, which is something I've never seen before.
"And there is also a red proof of one of the cards which was sent by Henry Cole in 1865 - some years after he produced the first batch.
"A few years later different cards were produced and the tradition of sending the cards really began," he added. (ANI)